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tv   Fox News Reporting  FOX News  December 27, 2015 1:00am-2:01am PST

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our forefathers. i'm jon scott. >> i'm jenna lee, and thank you >> this hour, when he talks, washington listens. charles krauthammer -- his uniquely american story. his journey from md to the pulitzer prize, how he overcame a devastating accident with the determination to lead a life that matters. hello. i'm bret baier, and i hope you'll enjoy watching this "fox news reporting" special as much as we enjoyed making it. fox viewers know where charles krauthammer sits on the panel, and they probably know his position on most issues. but we bet there's a lot you don't know about the all-star panelist, syndicated columnist, harvard trained psychiatrist, and even occasional baseball analyst. we think you should, even if the doctor has a different opinion.
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you were a little reticent when we started this project. what's your thought about all this? >> i don't like it. >> [ laughs ] full disclosure -- i've been trying to convince charles krauthammer to sit for an interview for some time... secretary kerry on the hill today talking about... ...not one where he simply shares his thoughts on the news of the day. >> i suspect there's gonna be another twist here. >> but one where he pulls back the curtain and reveals beyond the extraordinary writer and influential thinker, the life of an intensely private man. >> look, when i say i don't like it, i'm not averse to the spotlight. i'm not gonna pretend somebody's on television every night doesn't enjoy it. but when it comes to interior life, it's not something that's very interesting to me. more disclosure -- charles krauthammer is a colleague and friend. but he only agreed to cooperate on a "fox news reporting" profile reluctantly as part of the publicity campaign for, yes,
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a new book. "things that matter" is not a confessional memoir or scandalous kiss-and-tell. it's a collection of newspaper and magazine pieces from the pulitzer prize-winning columnist. or maybe it's more than that. >> are you decoding my book? >> i am decoding it right now. >> like it's entirely about me. >> [ laughs ] >> but it's all written in hieroglyphics. >> well, it's not quite as impenetrable as hieroglyphics. let's start with part one of your book, and it is titled "personal." and in there, the first column is really an incredibly moving piece about your brother. marcel krauthammer died of cancer. he was 59. charles writes this about his older brother. "he taught me most everything i ever learned about every sport i ever played. he taught me how to throw a football, hit a backhand, grip a nine iron, field a grounder, dock a sailboat in the tailing wind.
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and how we played. it was paradise." tell me about that. >> it was a paradisiacal childhood. my brother and i were inseparable. he was four years older, which is why this was a priceless gift. he always insisted i be included, so i got used to being around the big boys and taking the slings and arrows, and that's how you get toughened up. my parents were from europe. he was american, my brother. born in brazil, but that's a long story. but american, and he made me an american. >> that long story short -- krauthammer's mother, thea, is from belgium. his father, schlum, was a real estate developer from what is now a province of ukraine, both jews who'd left world war ii europe. they met in havana, moved to rio, and eventually new york city, where charles was born in 1950. when he was 5, the krauthammers moved to montreal. but they spent summers at the
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family cottage in long beach, new york. charles recalls spending every day with his brother on the field, on the court, or in the water. >> i don't think i owned a shirt till i was 21. all the pictures, the family movies, my father is shirtless, my brother's shirtless, i am. we're outside in the sun. i read on the beach. that's where i got all my knowledge was reading. >> of course, there was reading and studying. schlum krauthammer, who spoke nine languages, even carried his son's stellar second grade report card around in his coat pocket. >> his motto for us was, "i want you to know everything. i want you to learn everything. you don't have to do everything, but you got to know everything." he thought that was part of life. >> that life did not include a tv, says the cable news pundit. >> my father wouldn't allow it. once a week, sunday night, we'd go to the neighbors to watch "the ed sullivan show." that was the one concession, the television. >> inspired by uncles who were doctors, marcel krauthammer went
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to medical school. it was assumed charles would follow. but as a 19-year-old senior at mcgill, the internationally renowned canadian university, he was bitten by a different bug -- political journalism. >> well, that was a little bit of campus intrigue. the editorship of the newspaper at mcgill was controlled by the student council. i'd been elected to the student council, and the paper was becoming unreadable. it was run by marxists, maoists. i mean, it was just -- it looked like it came out of the soviet union. you just couldn't read it. so we engineered a coup to fire the editor, and then we sort of realized, "well, what do we do now? we have to find an editor." so they looked around and they decided it was gonna be me. so i said, "wait, i've never worked on a paper." said, "eh, a detail." >> a poli-sci and economics major, he loved thinking and writing about all things political. he applied to medical school to please his family and got accepted to harvard, but he got
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into oxford, as well, to study political theory. would krauthammer choose a life of science or a life of letters? the brilliant graduate had enviable options, but he hadn't figured out what mattered most to him, so he split the difference. he put off harvard, enrolled at oxford, and wh history's great political philosophers, he met a fellow student from australia, robyn trethewey, attractive and brilliant, too, a clerk to the chief justice of her home state's supreme court. but so much would change in the three years between when they met and married, beginning with his sudden decision to leave england. >> i had this little epiphany of sorts. i started in political theory. it was getting more and more abstract. i learned a lot, but i began to feel that i was very sort of spinning out into a universe that didn't have anything to do with the real world. i called the registrar at harvard medical school and said,
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"i'd like to come in the coming class," and i remember her saying, "well, one guy dropped out. we got a spot. if you're here on monday, it's yours." so i grabbed a toothbrush and i didn't pack. i got on a plane and i left. and that's how i decided to become a doctor. now, when i woke up in boston the next day, i thought to myself, "oh, my god, what have i done?" >> [ chuckles ] >> but there was no going back. >> why did you choose psychiatry? >> i was looking for something halfway between the reality of medicine and the elegance, if you like, of philosophy. so psychiatry was the obvious thing. that was my intention from the first day, and i was lucky because it was probably the easiest branch of medicine for me to do once i was hurt. >> "hurt." that doesn't even begin to describe it. when did you realize that the accident was life-altering? >> the second it happened. >> after the break.
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♪ >> welcome back to "fox news reporting." so far, you've met the young charles krauthammer, harvard medicine, class of '75. his life seemed to be going according to plan, but then no life ever really does. this snapshot was taken in may 1972. it shows a strapping 6'1" charles krauthammer standing on the beach. it's the confident smile of a young man well on his way to making it -- smart, athletic, handsome, driven, the future all his. >> that was spring break in my first year in medical school. i went with a bunch of friends to bermuda. that actually is the last picture of me taken standing. of course, i didn't know at the time. and i was coming out of the water carrying my sandals.
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i saw one of my friends with a camera, and then when i got to the top of the dune, i just stood there for a picture. thought nothing of it until i discovered it years later lying around in a box. and remembering it, of course, it was a fateful picture. >> fateful because of what would happen back at harvard that summer. you were 22 years old. tell me about that day. >> i went out. we had -- it was -- it was the end of my first year in medical school. we're doing neurology. we're studying the spinal cord, of all things. my classmate and i decide to skip the morning session. beautiful july day. we're gonna -- and we played tennis instead. >> after their game, they head back to class for the afternoon session, but along the way, they stop at a pool on campus, set down their books, and pull off their sneakers. >> we're very sweaty. it's very hot, so we go for a
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swim. we take a few dives, and i hit my head on the bottom of the pool. >> a freak accident, says krauthammer. >> the amazing thing is, there was no -- not even a cut on my head. it just hit at precisely the angle where all the force was transmitted to one spot, and that is the cervical vertebrae, which severed the spinal cord. >> when did you realize that the accident was life-altering? >> the second it happened. >> you knew? >> i knew exactly what happened. i knew why i wasn't able to move. and i knew what that meant. >> at the bottom of the pool. >> i wasn't getting out. i knew, yeah. >> he was paralyzed, unable to move his arms or legs. his friend thought he was clowning around and hesitated before diving down to save him. was there ever a moment that you thought "this is the end"? >> well, when i knew what happened and i knew i was at the bottom of the pool and i knew i
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wouldn't be able to swim, i was sure that was the end. >> do you think back to that day often? >> not really. it doesn't -- i kind of have a distance from it. i see it like as if it happened in a film. um... and interestingly enough, for people talk about near-death experiences, there was no panic, there was no great emotion. i didn't see a light. my life did not flash before me. you sort of get to a place where you're ready and then you're suddenly brought back to the world. >> so no cosmic revelation as he was rushed to the hospital, though krauthammer notes the irony of what he left behind. >> there were two books on the side of the pool when they picked up my effects. one was "the anatomy of the spinal cord" and the other one's
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"man's fate" by andré malraux. quite a choice. i didn't know what was coming, but it fit very well. >> coming up, krauthammer's fate lay in the balance. what he did next astounded his professors and classmates. >> i knew that would be fatal. it was not a question. ♪
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♪ >> a skipped class, a fateful dive, a terrible injury. and there charles krauthammer lay in a hospital bed paralyzed, nothing to do but think. >> i made one promise to myself on day one. i was not gonna allow it to
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alter my life, except in ways which are sort of having to do with gravity. i'm not gonna defy gravity. and i'm not gonna walk, i'm not gonna water ski again. that's fine. so that you know. but on the big things in life, the direction of my life, what i was gonna do, that wouldn't change at all. >> krauthammer says he never entertained the notion that one day, whether through his own effort or even some medical miracle, he'd regain full use of his arms and legs. he resigned himself to the cold reality that wherever he went in life, he'd go in a wheelchair. was it hard? >> i think the physical part was hard, getting -- learning to do everything again. i have a great capacity for erasing memories. >> [ chuckles ] >> so it seems very short. it was long, but it would seem very short. >> his teachers and classmates certainly thought he was rushing his decision to resume his studies immediately. you never thought about taking a
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year off or taking a couple years off? >> no. i knew that would be fatal. it was not a question. >> 'cause you just couldn't survive. >> yeah, i mean, life would be over. it's a little early for life to be over. >> so while nobody had heard of someone with krauthammer's injury standing up to the rigors of a med school curriculum, krauthammer convinced harvard to let him try. amazingly, mere weeks after his accident, he resumed classes while still in his hospital bed. >> i was lying on my back, couldn't move. the professors would come in, repeat their lectures and project slides on the ceiling, 'cause i had asked the medical school to let me stay with my class. >> and you read by laying on your back. >> one of the cardiac residents hooked up a plexiglas plate above my head that he hung from the posters of the bed, and the nurses would put a book on it face down. now, you don't want to call them
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every minute and a half to turn the page, so i put two books up at once so they'd only have to come half the time. but you got to remember where you were. [ chuckles ] it's a bit of a challenge. it keeps you busy. there wasn't a lot else to do. >> with such force of will, krauthammer graduated on time in 1975 and near the top of his class. along the way, he got the girl, too, and married robyn. but as he began his three-year residency at massachusetts general hospital, there were indications from the beginning that charles and psychiatry might not be the perfect fit. part of the residency is that you're supposed to go to this weekly group therapy session, and you didn't want to go. >> there were 12 of us residents at mass general, and there was a group therapy once a week. and i didn't go. i thought it's a pointless exercise. so i was called into the chief's
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office after about seven weeks of non-appearance, and he said to me, "why aren't you going to therapy?" and i said, "sir, i came here to give therapy, not to receive it." and he said to me, "you're in denial." >> [ chuckles ] >> and i said, "of course i'm in denial. denial is the greatest of all defense mechanisms. i could be a professor of denial. i mean, i'm an expert at" -- well, i was going on and on. he wasn't very amused. >> he gave krauthammer an ultimatum -- go to group therapy or leave the program. >> so i went to the next 21 weeks of sessions or whatever it was, but i didn't really say a word. so whenever people would notice that, they'd say, "why aren't you talking?" and i said, "'cause i'm in denial." >> [ laughs ] >> i'm not a big therapy guy. >> was it because you didn't want somebody looking around your head? >> yes. i don't like to talk about myself, except with you, i guess. >> [ laughs ] >> i'm not a touchy, i'm not a feely guy.
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and that's probably why i quit psychiatry. [ chuckles ] if you're not into feelings and emotions and all the backstory, then you ought to be doing something else. >> so in 1978, krauthammer took a government job in washington at what would become the national institute of mental health. it wasn't what he really wanted, but it put him in the right neighborhood. >> i thought, "once i'm in washington, isn't that where they do politics? one thing will lead to another." >> his folks worried about their son tossing away a doctor's livelihood but didn't discourage him. his wife, robyn, who would leave her career in law to become a painter and sculptor, urged him to follow his dream. >> she was the one who, 35 years ago, encouraged me to follow my heart and, with her wit and humor and generosity of spirit, has co-authored my life. >> in a moment, charles'
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co-author helps him answer a higher calling. and later, he finds himself moving left to right, after the break. ♪ ♪
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>> charles krauthammer once wrote a column about the most important person of the 20th century. time magazine had chosen einstein, the great scientist. charles disagreed. he picked churchill, the indispensable statesman who led
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the fight against hitler and sounded the alarm over communism. politics trumping science. that might explain why krauthammer traded a big-time medical career for a one-way ticket to washington and why, once here, his eyes locked on to a "help wanted" ad in the political opinion magazine the new republic. >> i showed it to my wife, and she said, "why don't you apply?" said, "well, how can i apply? i've never written anything, don't know anybody." she said, "you write it, i'll hand-deliver it." >> i was intrigued, so i called him. >> michael kinsley was looking for a managing editor for the left-leaning magazine. was there something in his application, something during that phone call that made you want to bring him down? >> it was mainly the fact that he was a psychiatrist, because he had no writing samples. >> well, what did you see in him, though? >> you know, i just enjoy talking to him so much. i had this feeling he must be able to write this down. >> krauthammer gave it a shot.
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as the saying goes, he wrote about what he knew. his first article, "the expanding shrink," protested how psychoanalysis was creeping into political discourse. for example, president carter's famous malaise speech that blamed the horrible economy on americans' crisis of confidence. >> they liked it and they published it, and i got lucky again. it was republished on the op-ed page of the washington post. it was the first time any article in the new republic had been picked up by the post. >> krauthammer wrote a few more pieces for the magazine and might have joined the staff, except he got an even more intriguing offer -- as a speech writer for vice president walter mondale. >> that lasted six months. and when we got totally crushed in the general election, i got a call from the new republic, and they said, "we think you're unemployed now. would you like to come work for us?" i said yes right away and started on the day reagan was sworn in. that's the first day i started at the new republic as a writer.
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>> so help me god. >> the new president was promising big changes, even starting the world anew. reagan's inaugural truly signaled a great clash of ideas. >> in this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. government is the problem. >> and the new republic was right in the midst of it. >> well, it was overwhelmingly liberal. the writers were the best of that era. i was still a democrat at the time, a traditional liberal democrat, a great society liberal, but i was pretty hard lined on the soviets. it's hard for people to believe now, but the democratic party had a very powerful wing that was very anti-soviet. >> but those democrats were a dying breed, and krauthammer found himself agreeing more with president reagan than with his liberal readers. >> i ended up supporting just about every element of the reagan foreign policy, and boy, did we get reaction from our liberal readership. i wrote one editorial
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excoriating the nuclear freeze that caused the largest number of canceled subscriptions in the history of the magazine, which i was very proud of. >> [ chuckles ] what was his writing like? >> it's always been extremely step by step logical. if you can read a column by charles about something and you can still disagree with him after you're through with it, then you know you must have a pretty good argument. >> [ chuckles ] those arguments had conservative columnists like william f. buckley wondering why krauthammer and the new republic were not supporting reagan's reelection in 1984. >> what buckley was writing was, why don't you give up on the democrats, and i was still one of those who wanted to sort of save the soul of the democratic party and maintain this conservative element of which the magazine really was. >> krauthammer fired off a letter to buckley, writing, reagan still had "a lot to answer for" on foreign policy,
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and his domestic policy was far worse. "the catalogue of sins we believe the president has committed is too long to recapitulate here." but krauthammer tells me he privately wanted reagan to beat his old boss, walter mondale. >> but i had worked for mondale in 1980. i liked him and had respect for him. and as a personal matter, there's a kind of a matter of honor. i didn't want to vote against a man for whom i had respect and affection. >> so you have a vote -- reagan or mondale. >> that's the only presidential election where i left that line blank. >> left it blank? >> but if i had been, you know, the swing vote, i would have obviously have voted for reagan. >> it was a turning point in krauthammer's transition from the political left to the political right. >> and just a few months after the election, i wrote something called "the reagan doctrine." >> it was a time magazine column, and it was provocative. for awhile krauthammer had praised reagan on a number of
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foreign policy issues. he was now crediting him with a breakthrough insight that changed the calculus of the cold war. >> i realized that what reagan had done without a grand master plan was to challenge what, at the time, was called the brezhnev doctrine, and that was "whenever we take over a country, it becomes a communist, it's ours." and all of a sudden, what reagan had done is to challenge that and to say, "no, you don't get to keep what you got. we're gonna challenge your possessions wherever they are." and i thought, "this is a really good idea. and i'm gonna give it a name." >> he invented the reagan doctrine, not reagan, and now everyone has got to have a doctrine. >> [ chuckles ] yeah. >> charles has made it mandatory to come up with a doctrine for every president. >> but even after reagan's 49-state landslide, krauthammer was still not sure what to make of reagan the man, who he met at the white house in 1986.
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>> he invited me to lunch. i tried to engage him, like, on the contras. "what are you gonna do?" and all of a sudden, what i'm hearing from him is this story about how when he and nancy were in the guest house of president marcos of the philippines, there was a giant spider on the ceiling, and the question was how to get him off without scaring nancy. and i'm thinking, "i don't get it. this is the most successful president in my lifetime. he seems to be out to lunch. what's going on?" >> he says it was only later that he realized what eluded him about reagan. >> he had no need ever to show how smart he was. he knew exactly what i was asking. he didn't want to talk about it. and if you thought he was a dunce, he didn't care, 'cause he knew that he wasn't. >> it would also be some time before krauthammer embraced a conservative domestic policy, taxes, welfare, small government, and other reagan-esque sins. >> it took me about a decade. i was skeptical of tax cuts. i was skeptical of smaller government at the beginning.
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and then by the end of the '80s, i had begun to change. >> what happened? >> empirical evidence. as a doctor, i'd been trained in empirical evidence. i mean, if the treatment is killing your patients, you stop the treatment. and i began to look and to read and to think about whether the view i had of a social democratic society like they had in europe was the right way, and i sort of -- i moved gradually to the idea of a more limited society, smaller government. >> by that time, krauthammer's world was really falling into place. in 1985, his son daniel was born. two years later, krauthammer won the biggest honor in print journalism, the pulitzer prize. not bad for someone who started in the business less than a decade earlier without even a writing sample. he went straight from the ceremony to see his father, who'd once worried about his son's jump from medicine to journalism. schlum krauthammer was 84 and gravely ill. >> i went to the hospital where
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he was, and i said, "dad, i have something i want to give you." and i gave him the medal. and he beamed and he showed it to all the nurses. >> it turned out to be krauthammer's final visit with his dad. >> so, the last time i saw him was a time when this whole circle was closed, and he could feel that the choice had been redeemed in some way. it was a very comforting thing to remember about the last time you see your parent. [ cheers and applause ] >> krauthammer called the 1990s a holiday from history. the cold war was won. the era of big government declared over. [ siren wails ] and 9/11 brought a new urgency to his commentary. >> people understand there is a nexus between these weapons, these states, and the terrorists, and we have to attack them where they are. >> krauthammer began appearing on "special report's" all-star panel and was soon an audience favorite.
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you've been a fixture on "special report" for a long time, and even still a lot of people don't know that you're in a wheelchair. they don't know the extent of your paralysis. >> i am sitting behind a table. and it is true. i say half the people i meet are absolutely surprised to see me in a wheelchair. and one of the more amusing of those incidents happened about, oh, about eight, nine years ago. and i remember i was sitting in madison square garden in the fox box. i think it was a convention. and then sean hannity stands up and walks up the stairs. he looks at me and he goes, "what happened?" i just -- you know, i told him i was hurt as a medical student, it was no big deal. but it just told me that even somebody i had been on the air with wouldn't know. >> what is apparent is that krauthammer has the attention of people in high places. just one example -- krauthammer's opposition to white house counsel harriet miers not only helped
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block her nomination to the supreme court. a comment on the panel apparently gave president bush a way out. >> i remember thinking, "how do they get out of this?" and it came to me while on the set of "special report." i think what the administration ought to do is to say, "look..." >> his face-saving solution basically went like this. because miers' legal writings were covered by executive privilege, the senate couldn't vet her, so she had to withdraw. >> and three days later, that's what they did. >> are you surprised by the amount of influence that you have with your column, with "special report," that you hear or see things that happen as a result of a column or a statement? do you ever think about it? >> i think about it, and i find it worrisome. >> [ chuckles ] >> the reason is that when i was totally unknown, i could say anything i damn well pleased.
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>> coming up, power players and power hitters. from the all-star panel to the ballpark in eight minutes flat. ♪
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♪ >> welcome back to "fox news reporting." charles krauthammer set out to write a book about the things that matter most, and he didn't mean politics. the palm on 19th street, one of washington's legendary power scenes. and you know you're lunching with one of d.c.'s power players if his caricature's on the wall. >> i got one other scenario for you. >> and today charles krauthammer is holding forth on the nuances of power. >> oh, i can't wait to hear this. i know where this is going. >> not the political power of the white house 10 blocks away. he's talking about the washington nationals and whether they can power a late-season playoff run. >> the nats finish 14-2, one game ahead of cincinnati.
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>> right. >> and werth is the mvp. >> i was wondering where he was going. harper, desmond. but werth. >> i think charles and i are both people who write about politics to support our baseball habits. >> noted conservative columnist and newly minted fox news contributor george will has written two books on baseball. do you remember when you first met charles? >> i think it was 1982 because he was then with the new republic and wrote a cover story on me. so i said, "interesting guy." bring him to lunch. and that's how we met. >> so, how long did it take before you were friends? >> i think it was instantaneous. five years later, i bought a new house, and the first thing i did was build a wheelchair ramp in the garage so charles could get in. >> he told us that when you get together, you first talk baseball. and then when you've dealt with all the important issues, you go to politics. >> if there's time left over, yes. >> [ laughs ] >> tim kurkjian, a senior writer
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for espn magazine, has lunch with will and krauthammer a couple of times a year to talk baseball. >> to say they're fans is an understatement. to say they love the game is an understatement. >> i grew up playing the game. i love to play the game. and as a kid, my brother and i would go around on our schwinns on the streets of long island with transistor radios hanging from the handlebars listening to mel allen and phil rizzuto doing the yankee games. this was our lives. >> since the nationals came to washington in 2005, they've had no bigger fan than charles krauthammer. >> when i started to do your show every night, you know, it ends at 7:00, the game starts at 7:10. the garage at fox is seven minutes if the wind is fair in the third street tunnel. >> [ chuckles ] >> from the garage at nat stadium. so i get there in the bottom of the first. i mean, how can i resist? >> he makes that trip in a
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special vehicle designed just for him that lets krauthammer accelerate and brake with his left hand and steer with his right. >> everybody comes in here the first time is terrified. >> [ chuckles ] >> and i don't blame them. in fact, when i went for my driving test, the tester didn't want to get in. >> [ laughs ] >> i told him he had to. it's the law. i think he passed me because he survived. he was so happy to be alive when it was over. >> the first time i saw you go into the parking lot, i waved to you, and then the next day you said to me, "you really shouldn't wave. it's a little dangerous." [ laughs ] >> yeah, the wave is a little bit hard. when somebody lets me in in traffic, i'm tempted to take one hand and to say the "thank you" wave. >> [ chuckles ] >> but then, of course, i wouldn't have a hand on the steering wheel. >> it actually took us eight minutes to get to the stadium. when we took our seats, the nats were beating the braves 1-0. krauthammer went into analyst
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mode right away, as though he was breaking down a procedural move harry reid might use to thwart a ted cruz filibuster. >> on a 1-0 count, you want to steal on a breaking ball 'cause it's slower. and does he like you to throw a breaking ball? no. so he's unlikely to try to steal right now. strike one. now he might go for a breaking ball. >> turns out, nine innings with charles krauthammer is not just a day at the park. it's essentially grad school for baseball. >> okay, this is unfortunate matchup. the only reason solano is in there -- he's the backup catcher who doesn't hit very well. >> get through. come on. no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. awww. >> he's a catcher. he can't run. >> from time to time, charles writes about baseball, typically in a way that transcends the sport. take his column about rick ankiel, a 21-year-old pitching phenom who, back in
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2000, fell apart when he was picked to start a playoff game. with a huge national tv audience watching, he suddenly couldn't throw a strike. he never pitched the same again. but instead of quitting, ankiel went back down to the minors, learned a new position, and returned to the majors as a hitter. the column is reprinted in krauthammer's book, "things that matter." it's in the "personal" section just a few pages after the piece about his brother, marcel. i was thinking about this column. this is not really about you. but then your last line, "the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter, every life has such a moment. what distinguishes us is whether and how we ever come back." >> that's why the rick ankiel story resonated so much with me. i mean, i had my fatal encounter, as did rick ankiel.
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there's an element about everybody's story, their low point. do you want it enough, and are you lucky enough? that's a part of it, too. >> while krauthammer's injury has kept him off the playing fields and courts, he's pursued another competitive outlet -- chess. which lights you up more? baseball or chess when you're in the game? >> there's no comparison. it's chess. >> do you still play chess? >> no, i gave it up. it's an addiction. >> completely? >> it's a poison. >> [ laughs ] >> i mean, it's -- you know, you reach a point when you're on the internet, you know, middle of the night and you're playing speed chess or you realize you're in a motel room and you're drinking aqua velva. >> [ laughs ] your book was supposed to be a collection of essays on things other than politics, but it didn't turn out that way. why? >> in the end, everything, all the beautiful, elegant things in life, depend ultimately on getting politics right. >> you say science, art, poetry,
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baseball must ultimately bow to politics. >> i have a column in the book where i write about the fermi paradox. fermi was a great physicist who posed a simple question. we know that there are millions of habitable worlds out there. so there have to be thousands, millions of civilizations. why have we never heard from any of them? the most plausible explanation is that every time a civilization achieves consciousness and the kind of science that would allow you to transmit a signal, they destroy themselves. and the question is, can we regulate our politics in a way that will allow the human species to flourish and produce all the beautiful stuff? and that's a question that only can be answered by politics. >> coming up, battering the president and ticking off the tea party. have you seen this mail? >> my assistant reads most of my
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mail, and he's now in therapy. >> [ laughs ] "fox news reporting" continues after the break. ♪
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♪ >> it was january 2009, 30 years after charles krauthammer began his journalism career here in washington. a new president was about to be sworn in, but krauthammer wasn't sure what to make of barack obama. he got the chance to size him up at a small dinner party hosted by his friend george will. it was a week before inauguration day. >> i remember, before the president-elect arrived, saying, "you know, i haven't been able to figure this guy out. is he a centrist who occasionally will throw a bone to the left?
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or is he a lefty who occasionally will throw a bone to the right? nobody had any ideas. >> well, that was part of mr. obama's great strength. he was a national rorschach test. >> so we spent three hours with this new man. he leaves, and we're staying behind a little bit, and i say the same question. is he a centrist? is he a lefty? nobody knew. >> you think you've figured him out? >> i figured him out after that first state of the union speech. >> we will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power. we can no longer afford to put healthcare reform on hold. it will be the goal of this administration to ensure... >> i was so astonished that i wrote five columns in a row on what kind of unusual political animal he was in giving an agenda as radical as any since fdr. he basically said, "i'm not here to tinker. i've come here to transform america." >> you've been pretty tough on this administration, this president. >> well, i think he's done just
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about everything wrong. [ chuckles ] >> but just as he was willing to offend his fellow liberals back in the '80s, he is equally willing to take on conservatives he believes are wrong. have you seen this mail from some of the things you've said about ted cruz? i mean, i get the e-mails. >> oh, i know you get the e-mails. i've seen the tweets. my assistant reads most of my mail, and he's now in therapy. >> [ laughs ] >> just kidding. >> the krauthammer on fox did not appreciate what cruz did. >> if he listened to talk radio, it might really send his assistant over the edge. >> dr. charles krauthammer, in the 1980s, he was working for walter mondale. >> it's my job to call a folly a folly. if you're gonna leave the medical profession because you think you have something to say, you're betraying your whole life if you don't say what you think and you don't say it honestly and bluntly. >> do you think you'll ever stop writing? >> no, i intend to die at my desk. >> really? >> i would like to.
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i'm not sure i can arrange it. >> [ laughs ] ♪
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that's it for me. julie banderas up next with the fox report. fox urgent. death rise in the south. alabama hit especially hard. much of the state in a state of emergency. and warm weather sparking rain and tornados and downpours are triggers and hundreds of rods under water. and twisters ripping through neighborhoods. one victim who lost two homes to tornados

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